Monday, April 12, 2010

Promised Land Journeys

Throughout the history of the Lord's people, we find the repeated saga of the journey to the Promised Land.  In the Bible we have the Exodus, in the Book of Mormon we have the Nephites and the Jaredites, and in the latter-days we have the pioneers.  Each story is unique, and yet there are some common elements.

Each of us is also on a journey to the Promised Land.  It's what our lives are all about.  Each of our stories is also unique, and each also has some elements in common with the journeys of the Israelites, the Nephites, the Jaredites, and the early Mormon saints.
  • The purpose of the journey is always to worship freely, to build a temple, to create a Zion society, to be one with God.
  • No one takes a journey to the Promised Land alone.  It is always done in families, and in groups of believers who support each other, watch over each others' children, build ships together and fix wagon wheels.
  • There is always a prophet to lead the group, who has a vision of the destination. The willingness of the people to follow that prophet has a great effect upon the efficiency of the journey.
  • Although every day of travel is a new frontier, there is always guidance available.  There is a map, a pillar of fire, the stars, the scriptures, a compass.  There is always light, even in the depths of the sea.
  • Sometimes the unbelievers are weeded out by the difficulties along the way so that a more pure society can be established, such as in Utah.  Sometimes, the unbelievers are dragged along unwillingly, and eventually become believers as well, such as in ancient America.  Sometimes both things happen, such as in the Exodus.
  • The journey strengthens, teaches and shapes the believers.
  • There are stunning vistas, beautiful seascapes, stars, flowers, deserts and mountains. There is music for encouragement and celebration. There is beauty and joy all along the way.
  • A few saints become "fit for the kingdom" more quickly than others. The shortcut of early death takes them to God's Promised Land.
  • The travelers are always surprised by terrifying perils, pitfalls, switchbacks and U-turns.  Just as disaster is eminent, miracles occur: quail blow in from the sea, water comes from the dry prairie, angels push the handcarts, the Red Sea drowns the army, Ephraim Hanks shows up with a buffalo. 
  • It's always hard to remember the last miracle when the next one is deperately needed.
  • Extreme difficulties are always a part of the journey so that the saints can learn that "no monster of the sea could break them" (Ether 6:11) when the Lord is traveling with them.  By needing rescue, they learn He is always ready, willing and able to save, and no one could make it without Him.
  • Although the journey is hard, things are always worse for those who don't take it: Jerusalem is destroyed and its survivors are taken as slaves; the land of Egypt is devastated by the plagues and the loss of its army and government; Jackson County, Missouri is completely destroyed by the Civil War.
  • Everyone has to walk, work, and stick it out to the end.  It's the only way to get there.

1 comment:

Michaela Stephens said...

I love these parallels that you have pointed out. So true!